AIRAH CEO Phil Wilkinson, F.AIRAH, says that although building simulation is becoming an increasingly important facet of design for high-performing buildings, there are barriers to its implementation. AIRAH’s Building Simulation Procurement Guidelines can help alleviate these, and provide clarity.
“Building simulation is a fundamental component of sustainable building design,” Wilkinson says. “Whether it’s driving early design decisions, complying with NCC Section J, submitting for Green Star certification, meeting tenants’ energy-performance requirements or proving the effectiveness of a proposed design, simulation is a powerful tool used on many new-build and refurbishment projects.”
Lead author for the Guidelines, Ania Hampton, M.AIRAH, says a building simulation is a computational model that approximates the performance of an actual building in practice, whether this is for energy consumption, thermal comfort, daylight or ventilation. A simulation has inherent limitations, functions as a valuable tool to inform the design process, and assesses a building design for benchmarking, rating and compliance.
Hampton says the lack of regulation in the building simulation industry can make it difficult to engage a quality consultant to complete the task in question.
“Common problems clients face include lack of understanding of the type of simulation required, the outcome needed, and the steps necessary to achieve that goal; poorly defined modelling scope, creating difficulty in comparing quotes; and lack of confidence in the skill of the modeller and the quality of the simulation,” she says.
Enter the Building Simulation Procurement Guidelines, available free online.
“The Guidelines provides advice for anyone – developers, architects, building owners, facility managers, and managing agents, to name a few – intending to engage a consultant to complete a building simulation,” Hampton says.
Topics covered include everything from understanding the building simulation process to getting the most from a simulation.
Regardless of the purpose for which a building simulation is required – be it NABERS, Green Star, JV3 or other types of evaluation – an often overlooked but significant benefit of a simulation is how it can be used to inform and optimise a design.
“Building simulation enables quick evaluation of the ‘what if’ scenarios, to provide reliable comparisons between design options,” Hampton says.
“Variables in a building simulation are much more easily controlled than in real-world full- or part-scale models. A simulation is also far more cost-effective than fixing a bad design post construction.”
To access the free Building Simulation Procurement Guidelines, go to the “resources” tab of www.airah.org.au and click on “technical resources”.
The following participated in the development of the guidelines: Ania Hampton, M.AIRAH, (lead author); Nick Asha, M.AIRAH (co-author); Renata Dobrolowska, M.AIRAH; Paul Graham, M.AIRAH; Karen Hovenga, M.AIRAH; Wayne Lobo, Affil.AIRAH; the GBCA’s Jack Manning; Chris Wallbank, M.AIRAH; and Borzou Shahsavand, M.AIRAH.